Jenmum’s guide to baby-driving : top ten tips

There are quite a few guides to eco-driving springing up across the web but I’ve yet to see one that covers the more important issue of baby-driving. As a self-appointed expert in this area, not least because I think my mileage whilst on maternity leave is actually higher than when I was at work, I’ve decided to share my top ten tips for baby-driving.

1. Choose your car seat with care

You want to be able to lift your baby into and out of the car asleep and hopefully keep them asleep when you arrive at your destination. This can often be achieved by slotting your car seat into your buggy or rocking the seat whilst it is on the ground.  Hardly ever works for us anymore, sadly, as Bub wakes almost as soon as the engine dies, but for a while having  a travel system was worth its weight in gold.

2. Watch your speed

Faster, faster, faster! Bub seems to prefer the fast lane – over 60 mph seems to send him off to sleep the quickest. Luckily we live near several motorways so this isn’t too much of a problem. Once he’s asleep I can then turn it into a more leisurely drive but for the initial doze off speed is definitely of the essence.

3. Plan your route

Never take a shortcut if a longer route is available. We most often use car naps when we know we need to be somewhere around the time he’s due to wake up. Planning back from that I usually leave the house about an hour, sometimes more, before our scheduled arrival. Many’s the time I’ve driven off in the completely opposite direction or taken a 10 mile detour down an enticing country lane  just to pad out the journey and make it a little more interesting. Consequently I now have a forensic knowledge of the back routes through our local area, which is likely to be very handy when I’m back at work.

4. Avoid the rush hour

Whilst nothing sends Bub off into snoozy land like a drive, nothing is likely to cause more upset than a traffic jam. Even if he’s asleep he’ll wake if the car is stationary for more than a few minutes and if you’re trying to get him to sleep then just forget it. Whilst he’s usually very happy in his car seat he hates it when it’s stationary and gets fractious and unhappy after more than about ten minutes. So I hate, hate, hate busy roads, slow traffic and those lights that always seem to be against you.

5. Whatever you do, keep moving

A follow on from above I have become very adept at keeping the car moving whilst caught in traffic. When approaching traffic lights leave extra space between you and the car in front so you can edge forward very slowly and keep the motion going. You may even be able to get a forward-back thing going where you keep your car moving very subtly whilst everyone else is still. Also don’t be afraid to dive down an interesting back-street, just to keep things moving. In fact this is often a great idea providing an extra detour to liven up your journey.

6. Use soothing music

This one’s for you, not your baby. To keep your sanity invest in an iPod and load it up with lots of music and podcasts to keep you entertained. Plug in the headphones and you can listen to what you like without disturbing your (hopefully) sleeping baby.

7. Mirror signal manouvre

A handy little mirror positioned inside the car means you can check on your child, and more importantly their sleeping status, as you drive. Very useful particularly if you are getting fed up and fancy stopping for a few moments. Bub tends to wake up a short while after we stop so I use the mirror to keep watch for the early signs of waking. I then know it’s time for me to start the engine again….

8. Beware of forming bad habits

Not your baby’s habits – do whatever works, I say. Here I mean yourself. It’s very easy to start picking up a choccie bar or cake when you go into the petrol station but this sort of behaviour is very habit forming. I am sure part of the reason I’ve not lost my baby tummy is down to my chocolate-driving association. As powerful as any baby sleep association and just as unhelpful in the long run.

9. Watch your fuel consumption

Watch it and weep, sadly. This is a horrendously bad thing to do for your pocket and the environment. When the oil runs out I’ll no doubt have to look my grandchildren in the eye and explain that yes, once upon a time, people did drive for no reason other than to aid their baby’s sleep. But that prospect still hasn’t stopped me resorting to the car when it has felt helpful.

10. This won’t last forever

Yes, there will all too soon be a time when your child no longer naps in the car and instead you must invert all these rules and seek to minimise travel as much as possible. You’ll now find that all car journeys involve an enormous effort to keep your little one happy, providing distraction after distraction, all whilst listening to an irritating CBeebies song on repeat. You’ll look back fondly on those leisurely drives, listening to Radio 4, eating chocolate, and gazing adoringly at your sleeping babe. So whilst driving your baby around and around and around may seem ridiculous – enjoy it all whilst you can!


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4 Responses to “Jenmum’s guide to baby-driving : top ten tips”

  1. Jenmum's guide to baby-driving « Jenmum's adventures in parenting | Says:

    […] is the original post: Jenmum's guide to baby-driving « Jenmum's adventures in parenting […]

  2. Tweets that mention Jenmum’s guide to baby-driving : top ten tips « Jenmum's adventures in parenting -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jenny and Malcolm Stephenson, Jenny. Jenny said: Jenmum's adventures in parenting -> My guide to baby-driving: top ten tips for driving your baby […]

  3. existere Says:

    This made me laugh. It’s all true.

  4. Crying. Sleeping. Sadness. « Jenmum's adventures in parenting Says:

    […] in bed whilst he dozes off but he just grabs at my face and arms for hours. I’d even consider driving him to sleep if it weren’t for the fact that he wakes as soon as the car stops moving. I feel trapped in […]

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